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November 2012 entries

A Thought from Yesterday

While preaching yesterday in the second message of the "In Chains" series, the Lord impressed something on my heart to share with the second service crowd. In the midst of the worship time I began to think of the text I was about to share. "When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him." (Mark 5:6) The stament was made by the gospel writer of the man possessed with a legion of demons near the gentile city of Gadara. The man was not in a church or a temple. He had never met Jesus before. His life was not working out the way I'm sure he or his family had planned. So why was worship his first reaction to seeing Jesus? 

Here's what I believed the Lord was trying to get across. Worship is not facilitated by externalities. Put another way, worship is not a product of what is happening around you. Rather real worship originates inside the worshipper. Worship erupted from the demoniac in sheer anticipation of his deliverance. In other words, his worship was based upon faith in what would happen and not what had already occurred. He was keenly aware how far he had slipped from what God had intended to where he was. Therein lies our problem.

Most of us have forgotten how far down He had to reach to pick us up. We have become so numb to being "saved" that we forget what it was like to be lost. Because we have forgotten, we begin to look for external stimuli to cause us to worship. When the stimuli fails to materialize, or materializes in a way that is not to our liking, we quickly go from worship to criticism. What happens is that believers become worship junkies looking for the next spiritual high. When one place doesn't deliver they are ready to look for the next. And when the next place is surpassed with another church who can offer another higher experience they go running to it for their next fix. All the while forgetting that worship is not about self. It is all about God. 

The highs experienced in worship should come from the knowledge of the believer's amazing  opportunity to kneel in the prescence of a holy God. The man who lived in the tombs could have never imagined that God's Son would make the perilous journey across the sea into a pagan culture just to meet him; but He did. Comprehending such truth drove him to his knees as soon as Jesus and His disciples landed on his shore. What were the conditions surrounding this encounter? Was it windy or cold? Was it raining or was the scene bathed in sunshine? We are not told because it did not matter. We complain because of the loudness of the orchestra or band. We are critical of the song selection. We bundle up because it is too cold or complain when it is too warm. All of these factors people complain hinder their chance to worship. Tell that to the man who just was freed from a legion of demons who has been living in the tombs. Or on second thought maybe not. You may not like his answer. The real conditions for worship that really matter are not external, but exist in the knowledge we have been forgiven much!  

27 Petaflops is No Match for God

It intrigues how Christians are often seen as anti-science or at least hostile toward scientific discoveries and achievements. This may be traced back to when astronomers discovered the center of the universe was not the earth and some church leaders continued to insist that it was. Or it may stem from the conclusion scientists drew from their discoveries that they had found the origins of the universe without the need for the Creator. I have a problem with that too. That's just poor science. It doesn't make me fear science. It just re-enforces the fact that everyone sees things through a filter.

I find that science often supports my faith. For example, what mindless force of nature taught certain moths to change the pattern on their wings to blend with the bark of a tree? Who fastened the worm-like bait and fishing rod to the head of that ugly deep sea fish? How can the universe be infinite? How does a moose grow antlers so big in time for fighting other moose(s) :)? Then lose them after they have lost their usefulness just to grow the exact rack the very next year? All of these things and a thousand more bolster, not hinder, my faith.

So this morning when I heard about the world's fastest computer I once again thought about my Creator. At the Oak Ridge National Laboratories there is a computer that is able to sustain 17.5 petaflops. To the uninitiated that is 17.5 million billion math equations per second. It is capable of 27 million billion calculations per second at peak performance. It's formal name is the Cray XK7, but the folks at ORNL call it Titan. I used to doubt the existence of God because I questioned how He could know about me in world of so many people. I wondered how He could know me, much less know or care about my problems. Now I think, if man can create a computer that has the capacity to know everything about me and everyone else who lives, or has ever lived, on planet earth. And man is far inferior to God. How much more my Heavenly Father cares for me.           

Subtle False Teaching

Everybody is talking about politics today. So as is my nature, I'm not.

I want to talk about an observation I have made in the church today. Whether in the pulpit or the pew, it seems Christianity has become focused on the spiritual life of the believer. It has become so commonly accepted as the main thrust of faith that many of you are wondering why I would even disagree with such a concept. Actually, too much effort has been expended on ourselves. There is nothing in the New Testament that states our focus should be on ourselves. Just the opposite, our eyes are to remain on Jesus.

The subtlety of such teaching does not trigger an alarm with evangelicals that the grossly exaggerated doctrine of prosperity teaching does. However, we are never to fix our eyes on ourselves, but we are to think about His goodness. We are commanded to "look unto Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2) not unto ourselves. When we get fascinated with our own spirituality just the opposite occurs. When we focus on getting better, we often get worse. I don't mean we get more immoral or worldly, I mean we become more narcissistic. The focus is inward and not upward.

Our Christian walk is not about reaching a spiritual goal so that we need Him less. It is to get to the place in our life where we know we need more of Him. Just the thought of applying some level of achievement on our part indicates we have not advanced nearly as far as we may think. We should leave the spiritual report card to Jesus. Only He knows how far we have come from depending on our own righteous to totally dependent on the righteousness of Christ.

So what are we to do? Surrender. Not strive. Not try harder. Surrender! The victory is not won by the believer. The victory has been won by the Savior. Stop measuring your successes and your failures. The victory has been won. You are a victor despite your failures, whether they are few or many, because you are hid in Christ Jesus. Amen!